Announcing a Blog Giveaway August 1st!

Hello Readers!

I’m so happy to announce a blog giveaway here starting August 1st.  Check back to enter to win a copy of my picture book, plus two beautiful art cards by Paula Nasmith, plus an Amazon Gift Card! This will be open to residents of Canada and the United States only.  Apologies to others around the world who cannot enter but I hopefully can do an international giveaway at some point in the future.

This blog has been fairly hidden and perhaps difficult to find so your chances to win are very good! Follow me here so you don’t miss the chance to enter.

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And by the way, I usually have a little tea with my pancakes.  How about you?

Need Your Input for Books in Progress

Let’s have some fun and choosing which books to self-publish/send out on submission next… I need a little reprieve from making decisions so maybe you can help.

Here’s a synopsis of five different manuscripts I’m currently working on. I’d like to get your impression.  In the comments, let me know which story you’d most like to see made into a picture book!

1. Kelsey Meets the Monsters

Kelsey must face her greatest fear when her little brother is kidnapped by monsters.  Will Kelsey be able to overcome her fear and save Thomas?

2.  Dinosaurs by Design

Finlayson’s autism means he is just as passionate about loving dinosaurs as he is about hating the beach. One day there is no babysitter and no choice… Finlayson must go to his most feared and hated place… the BEACH!

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3. Allison’s Tree

Allison’s best friend is not a girl or a boy; her best friend is a tree.  In this gentle ode to trees, find out why Allison loves her best friend and what Douglas the fir tree can teach her about true friendship.

4. Honey Cakes for Oscar

Find out what happens when Oscar, a very hungry bunny, must reconcile his fear of bees with his love for honey.

5. Finn and Katrina’s Ferry Fairy Excellent Adventure

Journey with Finn and Katrina as they sort out how to keep their new friendship alive after a misunderstanding about what brought them together in the first place.

Which story gets your vote? Why?  I’m excited to hear your responses. Please share!

Happy Book Birthday, Katie Shaeffer!

Katie Shaeffer is too young to use the stove. Katie is also an avid collector. She has just one wish. One dream. One desire.  Katie wants to make golden brown, fluffy as a cloud, perfectly round PANCAKES all by herself.

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Enjoy this charming story and find out how Katie and her friend Baxter find a way to make Katie’s wish come true.

Katie Shaeffer Pancake Maker is written by Cynthia Mackey and illustrated by Paula Nasmith.

Available April 24th on Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com!

Relax and Read

I am pleased to announce that my first big book order arrived this week!  I now have a copy at the preschool; here’s a small fry enjoying Katie Shaeffer Pancake Maker at the end of the day.  It feels just amazing to see a child enjoying my book 🙂

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Katie Shaeffer Pancake Maker will be released April 24, 2017.  Order from Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble.

This charming story was written to instil confidence in emerging readers. Children will enjoy Katie’s pancake adventure and cheer for golden fluffy pancakes!

A Book Designed to Inspire

One of the many thoughts in my mind as I was writing Katie Shaeffer, Pancake Maker involved inspiration.  I love the way that picture books can inspire children’s play and I wanted to create a picture book that would inspire children to construct their own unique creations out of free reusable items that are readily available at home.

“Katie Shaeffer loved building things, she loved collecting things and most of all she loved pancakes.”img_2822

The story was written in part for myself as a preschool teacher, as I wanted a great picture book that could be a jumping off point for activities like this one.  I like to provide children with assorted sizes of cardboard boxes.  They use tape and scissors to construct a creation of their own choosing.

The learning opportunities here are so plentiful.  Children learn to use scissors and tape effectively.  This takes huge amounts of skill and focus for three and four year olds but they can do it.  Children develop confidence in their abilities as their fine motor skills improve.  Because the project is of a child’s own choosing, the child is highly motivated to complete the task and will spend more time working towards their goal.

I love this because it only requires scissors, tape and boxes.  Sometimes children like to paint their creations as well.  Some children have constructed creations and then taken them home to play with over and over again.  Just imagine how it would feel to be three or four years old and create your own toy!

I hope that Katie Shaeffer, Pancake Maker will inspire you and your children to construct unique creations from a panoply of recycled items just as Katie did in the story.

Katie Shaeffer, Pancake Maker will be available soon.  Check back here at my author website for updates!

Writing Books and Hikes

Hike

A hike is always a good thing for me. It starts out with promise. I love a new trail to explore accompanied by a friendly conversation as we make our way along the trail. It may be raining or sunny, warm or cold and as long as I go prepared, I am happy to tackle whatever might be in front of me. I don’t always know exactly what to expect.

Sometimes the path is a little longer or a little steeper than I expect.

Sometimes it is quite tiring but somehow I just keep going with the knowledge that once I get to the top of the mountain/hill/cliff, there will be a gorgeous view as my reward.

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Writing starts with promise. That idea that pops into my head and just begs itself to be written into a story. Friendly characters are my company as I create them and decide what will make them appealing to children. The weather may not always be perfect and the characters have to deal with a few setbacks but they keep moving forward along the trail as I do putting one foot in front of the other. Like the meandering trail, I’m not always sure where the story is going. Usually, I make some progress and then there’s the work of rewriting and more rewriting and even more rewriting and that’s when I feel I’m really going uphill on the trail, perhaps in the rain and wind and I wonder if I will make it to the end. I’m sort of there now with “Katie Shaeffer, Pancake Maker”.

I’m at that part of the trail where it starts to get really steep; where I might need to use my hands to scale some of the rock face in front of me; where I have to slow down as it is getting harder.

I know the reward is there and I’m going to keep climbing. It is slow going now but I’m getting closer. I’m on the trail to becoming a self-published author and I can’t wait to see the view from the top!

So I’m going back to climbing and hoping to have this book ready soon…

Support Indie Authors

Supporting independent authors is something anyone who reads can do.  It costs nothing except a little of your time.  Independent authors do not have a large publishing company with a team of people devoted to marketing just one book.  They are do-it-yourself-ers.  For that reason, they just don’t have the money or the resources to get a book out there on the same scale as a publishing company.  Still, many indie authors have unique talent that ought to be appreciated.

So how can you help?  You can leave a trail for people to discover their books…

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Write a review.  If you give the book 4 stars, or better yet 5 stars, then that is a huge boost for an indie author.  And it costs absolutely nothing except a little of your time.  Reviews will make or break a book.  So think carefully about the rating before you leave something less than 4 stars.  Is it just your opinion?  Is it possible that someone else with different tastes may like the book?  Maybe if you’re going to leave a book review for an indie author with less than 4 stars the best thing is to have second thoughts and realize you have something more important to do like sort out your sock drawer.

So… want to support an indie author?

Write a five star review!  Your time spent will be hugely appreciated.  Chances are you will get a personal thank you as well.  

Writing Books and Hikes

Hike

A hike is always a good thing for me. It starts out with promise. I love a new trail to explore accompanied by a friendly conversation as we make our way along the trail. It may be raining or sunny, warm or cold and as long as I go prepared, I am happy to tackle whatever might be in front of me. I don’t always know exactly what to expect.

Sometimes the path is a little longer or a little steeper than I expect.

Sometimes it is quite tiring but somehow I just keep going with the knowledge that once I get to the top of the mountain/hill/cliff, there will be a gorgeous view as my reward.

img_1011

Writing starts with promise. That idea that pops into my head and just begs itself to be written into a story. Friendly characters are my company as I create them and decide what will make them appealing to children. The weather may not always be perfect and the characters have to deal with a few setbacks but they keep moving forward along the trail as I do putting one foot in front of the other. Like the meandering trail, I’m not always sure where the story is going. Usually, I make some progress and then there’s the work of rewriting and more rewriting and even more rewriting and that’s when I feel I’m really going uphill on the trail, perhaps in the rain and wind and I wonder if I will make it to the end. I’m sort of there now with “Katie Shaeffer, Pancake Maker”.

I’m at that part of the trail where it starts to get really steep; where I might need to use my hands to scale some of the rock face in front of me; where I have to slow down as it is getting harder.

I know the reward is there and I’m going to keep climbing. It is slow going now but I’m getting closer. I’m on the trail to becoming a self-published author and I can’t wait to see the view from the top!

So I’m going back to climbing and hoping to have this book ready soon…

Fifty Tips for New Picture Book Authors Who Wish to Self-Publish

Okay, I’ll admit I’m no expert but I do like to share so here’s my list of 50 tips for brand new writers and self-publishers of the kid-lit variety.

  1. Show don’t tell  You will hear this a lot.  In a nutshell, this means your words need to paint a picture by including details, coversation and action.
  2. Use dialogue to help identify your character When you write dialogue remember who is speaking and choose words that help define the character who is speaking
  3. It is not completely taboo to use the word “said” Don’t just flip through the thesaurus and swap other words in for variety.  Choose words that add to the action or the character’s emotion.
  4. Write your story and then leave it alone for awhile When you go back to it you’ll have fresh eyes
  5. Watch out for things that don’t make sense
  6. Learn about child development Knowing and understanding your audience is hugely helpful.
  7. Make sure the images compliment the words Children will notice if there’s a disconnect
  8. The children in the story need to solve the problem, not the adults
  9. Each page needs to connect to the next one so that the story will flow
  10. Making a book ‘dummy’ can be helpful to see where the page turns will be
  11. Generally children’s books have a sense of being home, leaving home and then coming back home 
  12. Find a group to share your writing with You need other people to read your writing.  They will see things you cannot.  A fresh perspective is so valuable.
  13. Write and revise over and over The more you work with a story the more it grows and changes to become something better than it was at the beginning
  14. Take notes When you get little ideas, jot them down and save them for future stories.  You never know what you might be able to use.
  15. Join the SCBWI There is a huge resource of expertise available to you.
  16. Writing for magazines is a great way to start
  17. If you’re writing for children, then prepare to do school visits Most children’s authors sell their books through school visits in person or via Skype.
  18. Start a blog In order to sell books you need a platform and that platform grows from blogging.  Blogging helps you practice your craft as well.
  19. Grow your blog with giveaways When you host a giveaway it brings more traffic to your site allowing more people to become aware of you and your books.
  20. Network Through your blog you can network with other writers.  You can share ideas and learn from each other plus help grow each other’s blogs.
  21. Guest Posts Write guest posts for other blogs and invite others to post on yours.
  22. Do Some Research Learn all you can about self-publishing and how it works.
  23. A Good Editor is Extremely Valuable A good editor can guide you so that your unpolished work becomes polished and professional.
  24. Be Prepared to Spend Some Money to Get the Book Published Though it is possible to publish a book without spending a lot of money, you are better off to pay for the services that will make your book stand out.
  25. Non-Fiction Books for Children are in Greater Demand If you have the ability to write non-fiction books for children, it may be easier to sellcropped-101.jpg
  26.  Adding a non-fiction section at the back of a fiction book can be a way to make your book more marketable
  27. Books that deal with topics related to the curriculum are sought after
  28. Research the books that are already out there Write the book that you wish you could find but no one seems to have written yet.
  29. Diverse children’s books are needed
  30. An author website is essential
  31. Social Media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are important ways to let people know about your book
  32. Book reviews are super important You need book reviews of 4-5 stars if you want people to buy your book
  33. Do not pay for reviews
  34. Doing a blog tour can help get the message out about your book
  35. SCBWI has book parties that feature newly released books 
  36. Your book needs a marketing plan
  37. Spend a lot of time thinking about the title of your book, choose a great one!
  38. People do make judgments about a book based on the cover so make sure the cover is excellent
  39. You can use Goodreads to connect with readers and do giveaways
  40. Giving away your book for free might feel difficult but it is all part of marketing
  41. Book design is important If you know how to use Indesign then you may be able to do this yourself but hiring a book designer is worthwhile.
  42. Having your book available in as many ways as possible allows more people to buy the book so consider making it available as widely as possible
  43. Ebooks are different from the physical book and require formatting You can pay someone to do a conversion for you.
  44. Children’s picture books are more expensive to produce because of the colour images.  
  45. Images for a children’s book should be minimum 300 dpi This will avoid having the images come out looking pixilated.
  46. Once your artwork is completed, you can have it scanned and converted to 300 dpi files There is a significant cost for this as well so be prepared.
  47. Read a lot!!! Read all kinds of books but especially the books in your genre.
  48. Reading and commenting on other blogs is important too.
  49. Look at other author’s websites to see how they are structured and how they do their school visits.
  50. The list seems long, but keep this quote in mind… “How do you eat an elephant? A little at a time.” – Creighton Abrams

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